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Crossovers FAQ

Answers to crossover questions

The Crutchfield writing team is a group of full-time, in-house copywriters who share a passion for consumer electronics. In addition to creating the articles and videos you find in the Research area of the Crutchfield website, these hard-working and talented people write the informational copy for the products on our website and in the Crutchfield catalog. Our writers constantly research the latest products, technologies, and industry trends, so that we can bring you the most helpful information possible.

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Kicker KX2

An active 2-way electronic crossover

Q: What's a crossover and do I need one?

A: For a more complete answer to the first part of this question, you'll want to check out our How to Choose a Crossover article. A crossover divides an input signal into two or more outputs of different ranges of frequencies, so tweeters, speakers, and subs will each get only the range of frequencies they were designed to play. Frequencies outside each designated range are attenuated or blocked.

Every speaker system needs a crossover of some type. Component speaker sets come with separate outboard crossovers, many with tweeter level selectors. Every full-range, coaxial speaker — with its tweeter mounted in front of the woofer cone — already has a tiny crossover network built into it somewhere.

If you want to run an "active" system, however, you'll need a more sophisticated crossover. In an active sound system each driver (tweeter, woofer, sub) has its own channel of amplification. This dramatically increases the available power, dynamic range (softest to loudest sounds), and your control of the system’s tonal response over the whole audio spectrum.

Almost all amplifiers come with built-in high- and low-pass filters that can serve as the crossovers in a component system. But these filters are small accessory features built into the amps and are often more inaccurate with less fidelity than a separate, dedicated electronic crossover.

An active crossover gets wired between the receiver and amplifier and cuts out the unwanted frequencies before the amp wastes energy boosting them, so the amp can focus on only the frequencies it's supposed to amplify. Active crossovers usually have volume controls on every channel or pair of channels so you can keep all the “voices” of the different drivers in balance. Some active crossovers include other sound-processing features like equalization for further tweaking of the sound to your personal satisfaction.

In a hypothetical 4-way active car audio system the original full-range audio signal might be crossed-over as follows:

  • Low frequencies (say 100 Hz and lower) go to subwoofers.
  • Midbass speakers get frequencies between 100 and 250 Hz.
  • Midrange speakers would see frequencies between 250 and 3,000 Hz.
  • All frequencies above 3,000 Hz are handled by the tweeters.

Keep in mind that the crossover points listed here are for example only and do not apply to every car or speaker system out there. The best crossover points for one vehicle might not be the best for another. It all depends on the speakers being used and the acoustic properties of the car. Most electronic crossovers allow you to choose from several crossover points.

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Component speaker passive crossover

The passive crossover from a set of high-end component speakers

Q: What's the difference between passive and active crossovers?

A: Short answer: an active crossover needs power — a passive crossover does not.

Passive crossovers go between the amplifier and the drivers (tweeters, speakers, and subs). A passive crossover circuit is built with coils, capacitors, and resisters beefy enough to handle the high output power of most amplifiers. Some passive crossovers include a tweeter level switch, which gives you some control over how loud the tweeter plays relative to the woofer. A disadvantage of using passive crossovers is that they filter out frequencies already amplified, creating extra heat and lowering speaker efficiency.

An active, or electronic crossover goes between the receiver and the amp. It handles low-level preamp signals with its solid-state circuitry to cleanly divide the signal and send each band of frequencies in the right direction. Active crossovers are usually adjustable (you can select the crossover points) and often have other features like bass boost circuits for subwoofers. Another bonus when using an electronic crossover is that you can independently control the relative volumes of all your different drivers.

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Audiofrog crossovers

Audiofrog passive crossovers are designed to work with specific Audiofrog drivers

Q: How hard is it to install a crossover?

A: Passive crossovers are very simple to install. They do not require a power connection, a turn-on lead, or grounding. You connect the speaker wire coming from your amp to the crossover's input. Then the tweeter gets wired to the tweeter output, and the woofer to the woofer output. That's it. The most challenging part of installing a passive crossover may be where to mount it, but most crossovers are small enough to fit inside your car door near the woofer's location.

Active crossovers require a bit more planning and time, but with a little effort, almost anyone can get the job done. You'll need to provide 12-volt power from your car battery to operate the crossover just as you must provide a 12-volt source of power to your amp or amps. A distribution block is a good way to get power for your crossover via the same main power cable as the amp does. You'll also need a solid, noise-free grounding point — it's generally best to ground your crossover at the same place as your amp.

Your electronic crossover also requires a turn-on lead to trigger it to turn on when you power up the receiver, and you can either run that wire to the receiver or daisy-chain it to the amp's remote terminal. You'll route the audio signal from your receiver to the inputs on the crossover via RCA patch cables. You then run more patch cables from the crossover outputs to the amplifier inputs — highs to the tweeter amp, mids to the woofer amp, and bass to the subwoofer amp, for example.

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Infinity component crossover

The 3dB switch lets you take the edge off the highs

Q: What's the little selector switch on my passive crossover for?

A: Many component systems have passive crossovers with 2- or 3-way tweeter level switches included. Ideally, a crossover will put out the same level of signal, or volume, to the tweeter as it does to the woofer. But many people find that sounds unbalanced and too shrill and bright. Many speaker manufacturers recognize that and put tweeter attenuators in their crossovers. The settings should include "0 dB," when the tweeter level is the same as the woofer; "-3 dB," for a little attenuation; sometimes "-6 dB," for a lower tweeter level; and sometimes even "+3 dB," for those who like it brighter.

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Stereo 3-way crossover

How an active stereo 3-way crossover fits into a system

Check out all our crossovers at

  • Azhar from Kuala Lumper

    Posted on 7/21/2015

    Hi, My speaker freq response range is 75 - 20k Hz. Speaker impedance is 4ohm and output power range from 25 to 100W. If i want to make the crossover, which value of Freq Response should i consider? Min value or max value? Thanks...

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/22/2015

    Azhar, If you want to make sure low frequency notes won't distort or muddy up the sound, you can set a crossover to around 100 to 80 Hz to allow only notes higher than that to play from the speakers.

  • sachin from new delhi

    Posted on 8/4/2015

    i bought Sony - XS-N16202C 16cm 2-Way Separate Type Speaker (Component Speakers) do i need to connect it with a amplifier

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/4/2015

    Sachin, You don't absolutely need an amplifier to run those speakers - but they certainly would sound better with one.

  • sachin from new delhi

    Posted on 8/5/2015

    will Sony - XS-N16202C 16cm 2-Way Separate Type Speaker (Component Speakers) give a good output even if i have not connected it with a amplifier

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/5/2015

    Sachin, The only way to tell is to hook them up and give a listen. If you think they don't play loudly enough, you can always add an amplifier later.

  • scott miller from lafollette tn. 37766

    Posted on 8/25/2015

    I have been in audio for nearly 30yrs but have recently changed from A/V to d for the power but I cannot get the bass to sound like the a/b. I have vey good sq subs(Boston g5). Top of line 2001 alpine w4v out. head unit low pass on 80, mtx crossover set about 50 with 45hertz boost about 3/4. And strapped black kicker kx.1200.1 at about 3.2 setting ohms.the kicker kick eq is set at about 60hrtz and 45 12db boost is at about 1/4. I would greatly appreciate some pointers. Box is in parameters of the g5s (ported). I went from old sound stream Rubicon 1002 to the kicker amps. Maybe the a/b to d or actual amp crossover are why. If u could just recommend some xover freqs to try. Tinkering u

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/25/2015

    Scott, I can't tell for sure but it sounds like you're trying to tune your subwoofer by using three crossovers: one in your receiver set at 80 Hz, a stand-alone (MTX) set at 50 Hz, and one in the amp set at 60 Hz. If that's the case, I think you should remove the MTX crossover from your system and use the low-pass filter and bass boost on either the receiver or the amp but not both at the same time. I recommend starting with the low-pass set around 100 Hz and the bass boost off, and adjusting to taste from there.

  • John from Virginia Beach

    Posted on 10/11/2015

    in reference to tweeter attenutors,you say 0db gives the tweeters and woofers the same signal....does -3db setting make the tweeters brighter? I read you mention -6db gives the tweeters a lower sound,but I am not sure what you mean when you say that -3db give the tweeters a little attenuation? Is that brighter? My alpines have no +settings so Im not sure,as I would like to brighten the sound of my tweeters.Can this be done with the crossover settings on my amp? I just dont understand the crossover settings or how to set them on my amp.Tyvm,John in Virginia Beach

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/12/2015

    John, The word attenuate means to reduce a signal's level. On a crossover, when the tweeter is set for 0 dB it means it has the same level as the woofer. -3 dB means it's set a bit lower than the woofer; -6 dB even lower. To get your tweeters sounding brighter, set the crossover's tweeter output to the 0 dB setting and adjust the treble or high EQ control of your receiver to taste.

  • Mohamed from Nevada

    Posted on 10/21/2015

    Hi Buck, I have to following equipment I want to install in my car. a tweeter in the desh, a 6x9 ( plain no tweeter just a woofer) on the from door, 6.5" (woofer) rear door and a sub at the back. Its all connected to a 5channel amp that has setting for His pass 35Hz-250Hz, a switch HPF and gain setting for all 4 channels. Then the 5th channel has gain, low pass 35Hz-250Hz and base boost 0db-12db. 1 extra 2 channel amp for the tweeter. I want to go active i need to know if I can use a 3 way crossover then only tune the 3 drives 1 rear door woofer on the crossover low pass, 1 front door and tweeter at hi pass. Then have the 5 channel of the amp the sub out of the crossover and use the amp 5th channel sub settings with causing any imbalance on south turning. Do I have to buy a crossover that has option for all the drive including the sub or I can have the sub out of the crossover and use only the sub settings in the amp?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/22/2015

    Mohamed, It sounds to me that you'll need a stereo 3-way crossover for your system. You'd use the high-passed channels for your tweeters, band-pass (high-passed and low-passed) for the front midbass speakers, and low-pass for your subwoofer. You could then run the rear speakers using the high-pass filter on the amp to clean up the sound.

  • Kieran

    Posted on 2/23/2016

    Hi I have recently brought a set of woofers and tweeters, my questions is do I need an amp to wire my crossovers or am I able to wire it straight into my head unit and if so how?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/23/2016

    Kieran, Most component systems sound better when amplified, but you can run them with the power of a receiver's built-in amp. Hook up the crossovers just like they're speakers - using the factory speaker wiring is the simplest way. Your components probably came with a set of instructions which should show you in more detail how to wire them up.

  • James Million from denham springs

    Posted on 3/3/2016

    Hi I have a kicker 12 hooked up to a power acoustic 1300 watt amp I only have one set of Eva plugs on my CD player but I want to hook my 4 6×9 up to a high amp do I have to have a crossover or can I just use a y splitter

  • Randy from Marysville

    Posted on 4/30/2016

    I'm planning on upgrading my tweeters and woofers in my car , which already has stock tweeters and woofers . My question is, do I need to use the crossover that comes with the components or can I just wire them to the factory wiring?

  • Jaime from Rio Grande

    Posted on 5/1/2016

    hi : i recntly bought kenwood car stereo kdc-bt362u which have 3 sets of rca outputs ( front-rear-sub ) need to know which rca out put provide the correct signal to feed an external active crossover ? car stereo connections instructions do not provide this response in the diagram.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/2/2016

    Randy, Use the crossover that comes with the component set, they are designed to work together. Whatever crossover your car's factory system used needs to get by-passed so your new speakers' crossovers are fed full-range signals.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/2/2016

    Jaime, It depends what you're going to use the crossover for. If it's to divide the signal for tweeters and woofers for the front, then use the front channel outputs of your receiver. If it's for rear components, then use the rear outputs. The receiver already has a subwoofer output, so you wouldn't need to use an external crossover to get signal for a sub.

  • Michael from Houston

    Posted on 5/15/2016

    Greetings: I have a 3-way component setup as my front stage in my SUV. I have 2-way 6x9 in the back for rear-fill and and sub in the rear. I have a 5-channel amp controlling everything. I am a bit over my head with the tuning and the adjustments needed to make my setup sound its best. For my front stage I have a set of MMATS PRO 651. These come with a pretty elaborate 3-way passive crossover featuring a tweeter adjust of -/+ 3db. My question is can I turn off the HPF filter for the 3-components on the amp and let the passive crossover handle the adjustment? I was going to turn the HPF on for the rear but I am unsure on how to make the manual "tweek" adjustment (Frequency 50-200Hz). further, if it is better to turn on the HPF for the 3-way component setup what would be the best way to adjust the range (50-200Hz)?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/16/2016

    Michael, The high-pass filters on your amplifier for the front and rear speakers are meant to keep bass out of their signal paths so the subwoofer alone will play the bass - you should use them. Most full-range speakers don't do very well with low frequencies anyway, and some even distort when attempting to play them. Check out this article for help tuning your system.

  • Ty Curtis from Phoenix

    Posted on 5/28/2016

    I recently acquired a set of infinity 6x9 kappas but they are missing the crossovers. Is it possible to wire the without? I have an alpine pdx-5 which will be driving them. Please advise what I need to do withthe4 wires if I can go ahead and use them crossover-less.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/1/2016

    Ty, A crossover is essential for a 2-way speaker system to work safely - otherwise, the tweeters would tear themselves apart trying to play low notes. A crossover's design and ratings are determined by the speaker's manufacturer and are different for each component set. I suggest you contact Infinity's tech support to see about getting a replacement crossover for yours. You could potentially use an external crossover, but you'd be guessing what the crossover point would be, and could only hope that it would work safely with your components

  • cooper dolan from Boise

    Posted on 8/27/2016

    Hello. Your very kind to help so many people out, I was hoping I could be one. I understand you shouldn't exchange tweeters from a set. But hypothetically if I did, would an in line crossover for a tweeter cancel out with a passive crossover that's already I'm place? Or would it multiply the frequency dropoff? Thanks

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/29/2016

    Cooper, Do you mean connecting two crossovers to each of your tweeters? That's a bad idea - their interactions will create phase distortion, not improve performance. Use one or the other crossover, not both.

  • Darrell from Kennesaw

    Posted on 10/13/2016

    Hi, I just had Infinity REF-075tx tweeters installed with built in crossovers in my car not realizing I should have just bought components. I already have 2-way coaxial in the front & 3-ways in the rear. The dash tweeters appears to be a bit much than I need. Can I just leave the dash tweeters with the built in crossovers & change my door speakers to a component woofer without the crossover?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/14/2016

    Darrell, A component woofer needs a crossover filter to keep high frequencies from playing, so if you want to put in a pair, you'll need crossovers for them too.

  • Romeo from Cerritos

    Posted on 11/27/2016

    I will be installing a classic Pioneer KP500 head unit. I remember loooong time ago, our car was equipped with an equalizer. Not sure if I need a crossover, amplifier, etc. what I currently have is the head unit and the speakers. Thanks for responding.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/28/2016

    Romeo, You won't need an equalizer or a crossover unless the tone controls of your receiver are inadequate to make it sound good.

  • Iliya ch from Israel

    Posted on 12/19/2016

    Hello. I have this speaker system in my car: JBL GT7 -5c component in the front doors JBL 1204B subwoofer amp Kenwood KAC 7406 (4ch amp, 2 for the component and briged 3,4 for the sub). I want to add the JBL GT7 -6 to the rear shelf, and to buy another amp Kenwood KAC 9206D mono for the sub, and use the first one for the 4 speakers. My question is, on the mono amp ther is an LPF, and on the 7406 ther is an HPF in channel 1&2, BUT there isn't on channel's 3&4 for the new shelf speakers, do you recommend for my the buy an active crossover because of that, or run the GT7 6 on fullrange? Thank you!

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/19/2016

    Iliya, I recommend you start off running your rear speakers full-range. Then, if they distort when trying to play bass notes, you can add a couple bass blockers to

  • Jim from Kansas City

    Posted on 1/10/2017

    I need help understanding how to interpret my crossover settings of my head unit. I have: Receiver :JVC KD-R970BTS CD receiver speakers. JBL GTO509C 5-1/4" component speaker system w/passive crossover. Front Door Panel: Tweeters and 5 1/4 woofers (JBL's) Rear door panel: Factory speakers crossover: passive (has a button on it, what does this do?) I don't have a sub woofer (yet), so I my speaker output setting with front/rear I need guidance on how to set the crossover (xover) setting from my head unit? My xover settings on my head unit offer a hpf setting for freq, slope, and gain for my front and rear speakers as it also has settings for the tweeters. Can you explain what the the HPF's do and offer me some initial settings. With how i understand it the hpf filters out the bass below the settings. If this is the case how might I get the proper bass output out of my front/rear speakers? thanks for your help. Jim

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/10/2017

    Jim, HPF stands for high-pass filter, and you use one to remove the bass from speakers that can't handle it. Although I can't see in the KD-R970BTS owner's manual that any such control is available in that model, you can start by setting yours at 100 Hz and see if that sounds good or not. The lower you set that filter, the lower the notes that the speakers will be able to play. But don't expect great bass from your full-range speakers - only subwoofers produce true bass.

  • doug myers from phoenix az

    Posted on 1/16/2017

    I have the Pioneer Dex P99RS. It has 4 sets of outputs. I want to use the 4 for 1) Morel Picciolo tweeters, 2)Focal 165 KRX2 midrange (tweeters removed), 3) Focal Utopia Be 13 WS subs for modbass, 4) JL 10w6 sub in trunk. My two questions: Does using the 4 HU outputs in that manner sound correct to you? I understand the HU has built-in crossovers, can I use those crossovers as the crossovers for this setup?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/16/2017

    Doug, That receiver was designed for exactly what you want to do. Its high, mid, low, and subwoofer outputs can all be controlled by the onboard crossovers. All you need to add is 7 channels of amplification for a rockin' system.

  • david from nottingham

    Posted on 2/1/2017

    Hi lads i have just brought some pioneer 2 way component speakers to go with my alpine ida-x305s i have a sub in the boot so question is should i fit a cross over to my midrange speaker as well as having one with my tweeters so i can cut out some of the bass ? thanks

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/2/2017

    David, A pair of Bass Blockers, high-pass crossover filters, may be just what you're looking for. I'm sure something like them are available in your area.

  • Wilson Choo from Gelang Patah

    Posted on 5/8/2017

    Hi! I have installed a Pioneer AVH-X5850BT and I plan to add in a Tweeter (either Alpine / Pioneer), do I still need a crossover to match with Tweeter to make the sound clear? All other speakers are stock.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/9/2017

    Wilson, A tweeter needs a crossover to keep away low frequency signals that could destroy it. Fortunately, most tweeters come with crossover filters included.

  • Matt from Los Angeles

    Posted on 5/23/2017

    I am installing a single Infinity Kappa Perfect 300m as a center dash replacement to a 2016 Mazda CX-5 with a stock Bose amp, which I am pretty sure already filters out the low end from the front speaker. My question is whether I need an additional crossover for additional filtering. Do I? The amp probably only does about 30 w RMS to the center chanel, and it can RMS 75 w (300 w max) so I'm not worried about blowing the speaker, just whether I should limit the frequency in addition to what's already done by the stock amp. Thanks!

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/24/2017

    Matt, I think that speaker's intrinsic frequency response will make adding another crossover filter unnecessary. But if you do find that your speaker distorts, a Bass Blocker may help.

  • doug myers from phoenix az

    Posted on 7/9/2017

    The article is excellent and these questions and answers are gold. I followed Buck's counsel above, and the resulting system is indeed rockin'.

  • Jun Lamata from Bacolod

    Posted on 7/10/2017

    Good day! Sir i have this for my set up *Pionner 5850BT headunit *2 sets for front and rear Kicker 41KSS654 6-1/2" component speaker system *One Kicker TCWS10 Loaded 10" 2-Ohm CompS Sub *Kicker 40KX800.5 Do i need an active crossover? Can u suggest any brand? Kicker or audiocontrol? Thanks!

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/11/2017

    Jun, Those components come with external passive crossovers and the amplifier has built-in active crossover filters, so you don't need any other device to control the distribution of signal to the various drivers. A good place to start is by setting the high-pass filters on the front and rear amp channels to about 100 Hz, and the low-pass filter on the subwoofer channel also to about 100 Hz. Then - adjust to taste.

  • Anthony from Los Angeles

    Posted on 7/25/2017

    Hello, I have a Kenwood KDC-X701 HU connected to an Audio Control LC-4.800 with the ACR-1 wired remote. The front channels are running a pair of Focal 165AS components, and the rear channels are bridged to an Infinity Reference 1200S 12" sub. The sound is muddy, and the sub doesn't kick in until the bass remote is turned up all the way. My question is in regards to the crossover settings as I read that using both the crossover on the HU and the Amp will cause phase distortion. So which would you recommend using? Should I keep the HU X-over settings set to "through" (I assume this bypasses the internal X-over settings)? I'm not sure how I would bypass the amps built-in settings. Any help in this regard would be great. Thanks!

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/26/2017

    Anthony, Both your amplifier and receiver have extensive signal processing capabilities. That amp has an AccuBASS circuit that augments bass response. That receiver has 13-band EQ, bass boost, and subwoofer level controls. You should use the controls of one device or the other, but not both at the same time. Use the controls that you are most comfortable with. You would effectively bypass the amplifier's processing by making sure that for both channels the AccuBASS is disengaged and the filters set for high-pass with the knob turned fully counter-clockwise to the 30 Hz setting. An important part of tuning is setting the amplifier gain properly with all the other processing engaged. Check out Tuning your subs for help with that.

  • Larry from Fresno, ca.

    Posted on 10/30/2017

    Larry here im connecting my tweeters, does the stock speaker wire power the crossover, or do i need to physically run a power wire to the crossover. I have watched a few sites now and NONE actually show or talk about running or connecting a power wire to the crossover. Hell do i even need a crossover please help..

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/30/2017

    Larry, What kind of crossover are you referring to? Are the tweeters part of a component set? Not knowing exactly what gear you have make it impossible to give advice on how to wire them together. If you want a question answered about a system, you must identify the equipment by brand names and model numbers.

  • Johnathan from Youngstown

    Posted on 11/2/2017

    I have a pr of crossovers installed in my front doors, I'm replacing the tweeters and they're a different brand, is it alright to mix and match passive crossover networks?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/2/2017

    Johnathan, Most tweeters come with their own crossovers set to the frequency the manufacturer designed for the tweeter to operate safely. A tweeter will probably play using a crossover it wasn't designed to use, but it may play poorly or unsafely.

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